Traditional recipes

How to Throw the Ultimate ‘70s Fondue Party

How to Throw the Ultimate ‘70s Fondue Party

Celebrate National Cheese Fondue Day with the most delicious retro dinner party

Celebrate National Fondue Day with a decadent cheese fondue.

Fondue is a too often overlooked dinner party meal. It was such a popular hit in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but has all but disappeared from our entertaining repertoire since then. Our cheese-loving selves think this is a very sad story, and are thrilled that today is National Cheese Fondue Day, giving us the perfect excuse to dust off the fondue pot, and put it in the center of the table, filled with bubbling cheese, and surrounded by our closest friends. As fondue is today’s national dish, there’s no way anyone can judge you for your old-school tastes.

How to Throw the Ultimate ‘70s Fondue Party (Slideshow)

As far as we’re concerned, fondue is the perfect dinner party meal: The ingredients are affordable, there’s very little preparation required besides chopping up the dipping foods, and you definitely don’t have to spend any time stressing in the kitchen when your guests arrive. Fondue allows everyone to sit down and enjoy a communal meal together, recreating the atmosphere of being circled around a bonfire, toasting marshmallows over the flames somewhere in the great outdoors.

Just because it’s National Cheese Fondue Day doesn’t mean our ‘70s inspired dinner party has to be limited to just one course. Let’s go all out on this national holiday and create an entire fondue meal. Serve both cheese fondue and meat fondue to create a vague sense of an appetizer and entrée formation to the meal. Having the meat option will also help prevent the cheese from getting too intense and heavy, as it often does. End your fondue party in the best possible way: with chocolate fondue. All your guests will definitely have rekindled their love for fondue when their meal ends with fresh fruit and marshmallows dipped in a steaming pot of rich, melted chocolate.

Be the host of the perfect kitsch dinner party, by creating an evening centered around the ultimate Swiss comfort food, accompanied by plenty of wine, and lots of relaxed laughter. Read on for How to Throw the Ultimate ‘70s Fondue Party.


How to Throw a Hot Pot Party—With a Slow Cooker!

Do you know the kind of dinner party I don’t like? The one where the host is cooking the entire time. A host that's in the kitchen is a host that's stressed out—and possibly stressing everybody else out—while simultaneously ignoring the people who have been invited into his or her home.

But what if everyone was cooking?

That was my thought when I first considered cooking traditional Chinese hot pot at home. The name says it all: diners gather around a giant pot of flavored broth and take turns dipping in raw ingredients. The broth cooks the ingredients, not unlike the oil in fondue. And just like fondue, hot pot is perfect for groups—and it's not an idea that's stuck in the ‘70s.

So here's what I did: I invited eleven friends to come over and gather around the hot pot. Then the hard part came. I had to figure out to pull hot pot at home off.

The communal activity of gathering around a pot of simmering broth is common all over Asia. But just exactly what kind of broth is in the pot depends on where exactly in Asia you are. In Japan, where the dining ritual is called shabu shabu, the broth is kombu-based, like dashi. Meanwhile, Mongolian hot pot features goji berries and jujubes. And on mainland China, Szechuanese hot pot is packed with lip-numbing peppercorns, chili peppers, and spices. That's the hot pot I wanted at my party.

At restaurants specializing in hot pot, the experience goes like this: you order a broth and raw ingredients, the staff fires up a portable hot plate at the table, and once the broth starts simmering, you start cooking the ingredients yourself.

To bring hot pot to my home, I had to make a few changes. I couldn't keep the broth simmering on the stovetop, obviously, and I don't own a hot plate. That led me to the slow cooker. If it can braise a pork shoulder, surely it can simmer a simple broth—right?

When I spoke to Sarah Leung, one of the four writers behind the acclaimed Chinese food blog Woks of Life, she approved my slow cooker idea. She also gave me all kinds of other pointers for shopping, preparing the broth, and keeping things moving as smoothly as possible. My most important takeaway? “A hot pot experience is ultimately what you make of it.”

Well, I wanted to make it awesome. But first, I had some shopping to do.

Just like in stir-frying, the most important and time-consuming part of hot pot is getting your mise en place—that is, all the vegetables and meats you'll be dipping into the hot pot—together and organized. You want a small arsenal of ingredients to dip and cook at your party, so the more variety, the better. I found an Asian market to make my shopping as one-stop as possible (less grocery trips = happier host). Hong Kong Supermarket in lower Manhattan had just about everything, from shrimp snacks to fish balls.

“You can look at it as ‘oh, this is so complicated,’” says Leung. But, she says, that's not the point. "The thing about hot pot that makes it great is variety.”

So variety is what I procured. I bought vegetables (daikon radish, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, two types of mushrooms), meats (thinly-sliced rib eye, chicken cutlets), fish balls (from the frozen section—they cook fast and youɽ never see one at a fondue party), pillowy fried tofu and firm tofu that can be cut into thick strips.

Next on my list: Build the broth that all this stuff will cook in.

Woks of Life gave me the method for the mouth-buzzing hot pot broth I was after. In a carbon steel wok (I got mine from San Francisco's Wok Shop I stir-fried sliced ginger, bay leaves, whole cinnamon, whole peeled garlic cloves, star anise, cloves, Sichuan peppercorns, and dried chilis. Then I added a store-bought hot pot base, a paste made from from a blend of chili peppers.

(Adding that hot pot paste was a serious blast to the nose—so much, it almost knocked our photographer off of her stool in a coughing fit. I quickly turned on the vent hood.)

After the aromatics were fried and caramelized came the annoying part: Pouring in 12 cups of chicken stock and bringing it to a boil. It's annoying because, given the wok’s capacity, I could only bring about half of the broth to a boil before transferring the whole thing to a big soup pot, where I added the remaining broth. Once that batch came to a boil, I transferred it all to the slow cooker. That's three cooking vessels, sure—but it's a much smaller mess than trying to put all that broth in the wok.

Put your hot pot in the center of the room.

Depending on how many people you invite, it may get a little crowded around the hot pot. Keep tempers from flaring by serving some snacks. I chose some easy roasted almonds (subbing in a few pinches of Chinese 5-spice powder for the lavender), a delectable smashed cucumber salad, and some Calbee shrimp chips. I served all this with some light beers (like the Chinese lager Tsingtao), and while everyone snacked and sipped, I got going on the condiments.

The most fun you'll have chopping cucumbers looks like this.

First, I made a pot of short-grain rice (you could also use glass noodles). Then I set out all those essential Asian sauces: soy sauce, Shacha (a sort of Chinese barbecue sauce), black vinegar, chili oil, and sesame paste (tahini from Whole Foods did the trick). I also set out garnishes such as crushed peanuts and freshly chopped cilantro and scallions.

If I’m being honest, I hadn’t put any thought into dessert until I spoke to my mom that morning. When she heard that my guests' mouths would be buzzing from all those peppercorns, she recommended I have some chocolate ice cream on hand. And, as is usually the case, mom was right. (Thanks, mom.)

With everything ready, I set the hot pot in a place where everybody could gather around it and we all dug in, dropping whatever we wanted into the slow cooker. We all had chopsticks, but there was an even more important utensil on hand: a spider strainer. When set gently into the hot pot, the spider creates a sort of net for the meats and veggies, so that they can be submerged and cook but not sink to the bottom.

When it’s wasn't being used, I replaced the lid on the slow cooker to keep it at a simmer. (This is a safety thing a tepid broth won't properly cook the meats.) Another option would have been to reserve some of the spicy broth at a simmer on my stovetop and periodically replaced the hot pot's broth.

Use a bowl of rice as a base for your toppings and sauces.

As I watched my friends assemble their meals—rice (or noodles) in the bottom of the bowl, the just-cooked meats and veggies on top, sauces and garnishes to finish it all off—I saw that my hot pot plan had totally worked. Everybody having a good time and eating well. And they didn't even realize that they had cook their meals themselves.


How to Throw a Hot Pot Party—With a Slow Cooker!

Do you know the kind of dinner party I don’t like? The one where the host is cooking the entire time. A host that's in the kitchen is a host that's stressed out—and possibly stressing everybody else out—while simultaneously ignoring the people who have been invited into his or her home.

But what if everyone was cooking?

That was my thought when I first considered cooking traditional Chinese hot pot at home. The name says it all: diners gather around a giant pot of flavored broth and take turns dipping in raw ingredients. The broth cooks the ingredients, not unlike the oil in fondue. And just like fondue, hot pot is perfect for groups—and it's not an idea that's stuck in the ‘70s.

So here's what I did: I invited eleven friends to come over and gather around the hot pot. Then the hard part came. I had to figure out to pull hot pot at home off.

The communal activity of gathering around a pot of simmering broth is common all over Asia. But just exactly what kind of broth is in the pot depends on where exactly in Asia you are. In Japan, where the dining ritual is called shabu shabu, the broth is kombu-based, like dashi. Meanwhile, Mongolian hot pot features goji berries and jujubes. And on mainland China, Szechuanese hot pot is packed with lip-numbing peppercorns, chili peppers, and spices. That's the hot pot I wanted at my party.

At restaurants specializing in hot pot, the experience goes like this: you order a broth and raw ingredients, the staff fires up a portable hot plate at the table, and once the broth starts simmering, you start cooking the ingredients yourself.

To bring hot pot to my home, I had to make a few changes. I couldn't keep the broth simmering on the stovetop, obviously, and I don't own a hot plate. That led me to the slow cooker. If it can braise a pork shoulder, surely it can simmer a simple broth—right?

When I spoke to Sarah Leung, one of the four writers behind the acclaimed Chinese food blog Woks of Life, she approved my slow cooker idea. She also gave me all kinds of other pointers for shopping, preparing the broth, and keeping things moving as smoothly as possible. My most important takeaway? “A hot pot experience is ultimately what you make of it.”

Well, I wanted to make it awesome. But first, I had some shopping to do.

Just like in stir-frying, the most important and time-consuming part of hot pot is getting your mise en place—that is, all the vegetables and meats you'll be dipping into the hot pot—together and organized. You want a small arsenal of ingredients to dip and cook at your party, so the more variety, the better. I found an Asian market to make my shopping as one-stop as possible (less grocery trips = happier host). Hong Kong Supermarket in lower Manhattan had just about everything, from shrimp snacks to fish balls.

“You can look at it as ‘oh, this is so complicated,’” says Leung. But, she says, that's not the point. "The thing about hot pot that makes it great is variety.”

So variety is what I procured. I bought vegetables (daikon radish, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, two types of mushrooms), meats (thinly-sliced rib eye, chicken cutlets), fish balls (from the frozen section—they cook fast and youɽ never see one at a fondue party), pillowy fried tofu and firm tofu that can be cut into thick strips.

Next on my list: Build the broth that all this stuff will cook in.

Woks of Life gave me the method for the mouth-buzzing hot pot broth I was after. In a carbon steel wok (I got mine from San Francisco's Wok Shop I stir-fried sliced ginger, bay leaves, whole cinnamon, whole peeled garlic cloves, star anise, cloves, Sichuan peppercorns, and dried chilis. Then I added a store-bought hot pot base, a paste made from from a blend of chili peppers.

(Adding that hot pot paste was a serious blast to the nose—so much, it almost knocked our photographer off of her stool in a coughing fit. I quickly turned on the vent hood.)

After the aromatics were fried and caramelized came the annoying part: Pouring in 12 cups of chicken stock and bringing it to a boil. It's annoying because, given the wok’s capacity, I could only bring about half of the broth to a boil before transferring the whole thing to a big soup pot, where I added the remaining broth. Once that batch came to a boil, I transferred it all to the slow cooker. That's three cooking vessels, sure—but it's a much smaller mess than trying to put all that broth in the wok.

Put your hot pot in the center of the room.

Depending on how many people you invite, it may get a little crowded around the hot pot. Keep tempers from flaring by serving some snacks. I chose some easy roasted almonds (subbing in a few pinches of Chinese 5-spice powder for the lavender), a delectable smashed cucumber salad, and some Calbee shrimp chips. I served all this with some light beers (like the Chinese lager Tsingtao), and while everyone snacked and sipped, I got going on the condiments.

The most fun you'll have chopping cucumbers looks like this.

First, I made a pot of short-grain rice (you could also use glass noodles). Then I set out all those essential Asian sauces: soy sauce, Shacha (a sort of Chinese barbecue sauce), black vinegar, chili oil, and sesame paste (tahini from Whole Foods did the trick). I also set out garnishes such as crushed peanuts and freshly chopped cilantro and scallions.

If I’m being honest, I hadn’t put any thought into dessert until I spoke to my mom that morning. When she heard that my guests' mouths would be buzzing from all those peppercorns, she recommended I have some chocolate ice cream on hand. And, as is usually the case, mom was right. (Thanks, mom.)

With everything ready, I set the hot pot in a place where everybody could gather around it and we all dug in, dropping whatever we wanted into the slow cooker. We all had chopsticks, but there was an even more important utensil on hand: a spider strainer. When set gently into the hot pot, the spider creates a sort of net for the meats and veggies, so that they can be submerged and cook but not sink to the bottom.

When it’s wasn't being used, I replaced the lid on the slow cooker to keep it at a simmer. (This is a safety thing a tepid broth won't properly cook the meats.) Another option would have been to reserve some of the spicy broth at a simmer on my stovetop and periodically replaced the hot pot's broth.

Use a bowl of rice as a base for your toppings and sauces.

As I watched my friends assemble their meals—rice (or noodles) in the bottom of the bowl, the just-cooked meats and veggies on top, sauces and garnishes to finish it all off—I saw that my hot pot plan had totally worked. Everybody having a good time and eating well. And they didn't even realize that they had cook their meals themselves.


How to Throw a Hot Pot Party—With a Slow Cooker!

Do you know the kind of dinner party I don’t like? The one where the host is cooking the entire time. A host that's in the kitchen is a host that's stressed out—and possibly stressing everybody else out—while simultaneously ignoring the people who have been invited into his or her home.

But what if everyone was cooking?

That was my thought when I first considered cooking traditional Chinese hot pot at home. The name says it all: diners gather around a giant pot of flavored broth and take turns dipping in raw ingredients. The broth cooks the ingredients, not unlike the oil in fondue. And just like fondue, hot pot is perfect for groups—and it's not an idea that's stuck in the ‘70s.

So here's what I did: I invited eleven friends to come over and gather around the hot pot. Then the hard part came. I had to figure out to pull hot pot at home off.

The communal activity of gathering around a pot of simmering broth is common all over Asia. But just exactly what kind of broth is in the pot depends on where exactly in Asia you are. In Japan, where the dining ritual is called shabu shabu, the broth is kombu-based, like dashi. Meanwhile, Mongolian hot pot features goji berries and jujubes. And on mainland China, Szechuanese hot pot is packed with lip-numbing peppercorns, chili peppers, and spices. That's the hot pot I wanted at my party.

At restaurants specializing in hot pot, the experience goes like this: you order a broth and raw ingredients, the staff fires up a portable hot plate at the table, and once the broth starts simmering, you start cooking the ingredients yourself.

To bring hot pot to my home, I had to make a few changes. I couldn't keep the broth simmering on the stovetop, obviously, and I don't own a hot plate. That led me to the slow cooker. If it can braise a pork shoulder, surely it can simmer a simple broth—right?

When I spoke to Sarah Leung, one of the four writers behind the acclaimed Chinese food blog Woks of Life, she approved my slow cooker idea. She also gave me all kinds of other pointers for shopping, preparing the broth, and keeping things moving as smoothly as possible. My most important takeaway? “A hot pot experience is ultimately what you make of it.”

Well, I wanted to make it awesome. But first, I had some shopping to do.

Just like in stir-frying, the most important and time-consuming part of hot pot is getting your mise en place—that is, all the vegetables and meats you'll be dipping into the hot pot—together and organized. You want a small arsenal of ingredients to dip and cook at your party, so the more variety, the better. I found an Asian market to make my shopping as one-stop as possible (less grocery trips = happier host). Hong Kong Supermarket in lower Manhattan had just about everything, from shrimp snacks to fish balls.

“You can look at it as ‘oh, this is so complicated,’” says Leung. But, she says, that's not the point. "The thing about hot pot that makes it great is variety.”

So variety is what I procured. I bought vegetables (daikon radish, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, two types of mushrooms), meats (thinly-sliced rib eye, chicken cutlets), fish balls (from the frozen section—they cook fast and youɽ never see one at a fondue party), pillowy fried tofu and firm tofu that can be cut into thick strips.

Next on my list: Build the broth that all this stuff will cook in.

Woks of Life gave me the method for the mouth-buzzing hot pot broth I was after. In a carbon steel wok (I got mine from San Francisco's Wok Shop I stir-fried sliced ginger, bay leaves, whole cinnamon, whole peeled garlic cloves, star anise, cloves, Sichuan peppercorns, and dried chilis. Then I added a store-bought hot pot base, a paste made from from a blend of chili peppers.

(Adding that hot pot paste was a serious blast to the nose—so much, it almost knocked our photographer off of her stool in a coughing fit. I quickly turned on the vent hood.)

After the aromatics were fried and caramelized came the annoying part: Pouring in 12 cups of chicken stock and bringing it to a boil. It's annoying because, given the wok’s capacity, I could only bring about half of the broth to a boil before transferring the whole thing to a big soup pot, where I added the remaining broth. Once that batch came to a boil, I transferred it all to the slow cooker. That's three cooking vessels, sure—but it's a much smaller mess than trying to put all that broth in the wok.

Put your hot pot in the center of the room.

Depending on how many people you invite, it may get a little crowded around the hot pot. Keep tempers from flaring by serving some snacks. I chose some easy roasted almonds (subbing in a few pinches of Chinese 5-spice powder for the lavender), a delectable smashed cucumber salad, and some Calbee shrimp chips. I served all this with some light beers (like the Chinese lager Tsingtao), and while everyone snacked and sipped, I got going on the condiments.

The most fun you'll have chopping cucumbers looks like this.

First, I made a pot of short-grain rice (you could also use glass noodles). Then I set out all those essential Asian sauces: soy sauce, Shacha (a sort of Chinese barbecue sauce), black vinegar, chili oil, and sesame paste (tahini from Whole Foods did the trick). I also set out garnishes such as crushed peanuts and freshly chopped cilantro and scallions.

If I’m being honest, I hadn’t put any thought into dessert until I spoke to my mom that morning. When she heard that my guests' mouths would be buzzing from all those peppercorns, she recommended I have some chocolate ice cream on hand. And, as is usually the case, mom was right. (Thanks, mom.)

With everything ready, I set the hot pot in a place where everybody could gather around it and we all dug in, dropping whatever we wanted into the slow cooker. We all had chopsticks, but there was an even more important utensil on hand: a spider strainer. When set gently into the hot pot, the spider creates a sort of net for the meats and veggies, so that they can be submerged and cook but not sink to the bottom.

When it’s wasn't being used, I replaced the lid on the slow cooker to keep it at a simmer. (This is a safety thing a tepid broth won't properly cook the meats.) Another option would have been to reserve some of the spicy broth at a simmer on my stovetop and periodically replaced the hot pot's broth.

Use a bowl of rice as a base for your toppings and sauces.

As I watched my friends assemble their meals—rice (or noodles) in the bottom of the bowl, the just-cooked meats and veggies on top, sauces and garnishes to finish it all off—I saw that my hot pot plan had totally worked. Everybody having a good time and eating well. And they didn't even realize that they had cook their meals themselves.


How to Throw a Hot Pot Party—With a Slow Cooker!

Do you know the kind of dinner party I don’t like? The one where the host is cooking the entire time. A host that's in the kitchen is a host that's stressed out—and possibly stressing everybody else out—while simultaneously ignoring the people who have been invited into his or her home.

But what if everyone was cooking?

That was my thought when I first considered cooking traditional Chinese hot pot at home. The name says it all: diners gather around a giant pot of flavored broth and take turns dipping in raw ingredients. The broth cooks the ingredients, not unlike the oil in fondue. And just like fondue, hot pot is perfect for groups—and it's not an idea that's stuck in the ‘70s.

So here's what I did: I invited eleven friends to come over and gather around the hot pot. Then the hard part came. I had to figure out to pull hot pot at home off.

The communal activity of gathering around a pot of simmering broth is common all over Asia. But just exactly what kind of broth is in the pot depends on where exactly in Asia you are. In Japan, where the dining ritual is called shabu shabu, the broth is kombu-based, like dashi. Meanwhile, Mongolian hot pot features goji berries and jujubes. And on mainland China, Szechuanese hot pot is packed with lip-numbing peppercorns, chili peppers, and spices. That's the hot pot I wanted at my party.

At restaurants specializing in hot pot, the experience goes like this: you order a broth and raw ingredients, the staff fires up a portable hot plate at the table, and once the broth starts simmering, you start cooking the ingredients yourself.

To bring hot pot to my home, I had to make a few changes. I couldn't keep the broth simmering on the stovetop, obviously, and I don't own a hot plate. That led me to the slow cooker. If it can braise a pork shoulder, surely it can simmer a simple broth—right?

When I spoke to Sarah Leung, one of the four writers behind the acclaimed Chinese food blog Woks of Life, she approved my slow cooker idea. She also gave me all kinds of other pointers for shopping, preparing the broth, and keeping things moving as smoothly as possible. My most important takeaway? “A hot pot experience is ultimately what you make of it.”

Well, I wanted to make it awesome. But first, I had some shopping to do.

Just like in stir-frying, the most important and time-consuming part of hot pot is getting your mise en place—that is, all the vegetables and meats you'll be dipping into the hot pot—together and organized. You want a small arsenal of ingredients to dip and cook at your party, so the more variety, the better. I found an Asian market to make my shopping as one-stop as possible (less grocery trips = happier host). Hong Kong Supermarket in lower Manhattan had just about everything, from shrimp snacks to fish balls.

“You can look at it as ‘oh, this is so complicated,’” says Leung. But, she says, that's not the point. "The thing about hot pot that makes it great is variety.”

So variety is what I procured. I bought vegetables (daikon radish, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, two types of mushrooms), meats (thinly-sliced rib eye, chicken cutlets), fish balls (from the frozen section—they cook fast and youɽ never see one at a fondue party), pillowy fried tofu and firm tofu that can be cut into thick strips.

Next on my list: Build the broth that all this stuff will cook in.

Woks of Life gave me the method for the mouth-buzzing hot pot broth I was after. In a carbon steel wok (I got mine from San Francisco's Wok Shop I stir-fried sliced ginger, bay leaves, whole cinnamon, whole peeled garlic cloves, star anise, cloves, Sichuan peppercorns, and dried chilis. Then I added a store-bought hot pot base, a paste made from from a blend of chili peppers.

(Adding that hot pot paste was a serious blast to the nose—so much, it almost knocked our photographer off of her stool in a coughing fit. I quickly turned on the vent hood.)

After the aromatics were fried and caramelized came the annoying part: Pouring in 12 cups of chicken stock and bringing it to a boil. It's annoying because, given the wok’s capacity, I could only bring about half of the broth to a boil before transferring the whole thing to a big soup pot, where I added the remaining broth. Once that batch came to a boil, I transferred it all to the slow cooker. That's three cooking vessels, sure—but it's a much smaller mess than trying to put all that broth in the wok.

Put your hot pot in the center of the room.

Depending on how many people you invite, it may get a little crowded around the hot pot. Keep tempers from flaring by serving some snacks. I chose some easy roasted almonds (subbing in a few pinches of Chinese 5-spice powder for the lavender), a delectable smashed cucumber salad, and some Calbee shrimp chips. I served all this with some light beers (like the Chinese lager Tsingtao), and while everyone snacked and sipped, I got going on the condiments.

The most fun you'll have chopping cucumbers looks like this.

First, I made a pot of short-grain rice (you could also use glass noodles). Then I set out all those essential Asian sauces: soy sauce, Shacha (a sort of Chinese barbecue sauce), black vinegar, chili oil, and sesame paste (tahini from Whole Foods did the trick). I also set out garnishes such as crushed peanuts and freshly chopped cilantro and scallions.

If I’m being honest, I hadn’t put any thought into dessert until I spoke to my mom that morning. When she heard that my guests' mouths would be buzzing from all those peppercorns, she recommended I have some chocolate ice cream on hand. And, as is usually the case, mom was right. (Thanks, mom.)

With everything ready, I set the hot pot in a place where everybody could gather around it and we all dug in, dropping whatever we wanted into the slow cooker. We all had chopsticks, but there was an even more important utensil on hand: a spider strainer. When set gently into the hot pot, the spider creates a sort of net for the meats and veggies, so that they can be submerged and cook but not sink to the bottom.

When it’s wasn't being used, I replaced the lid on the slow cooker to keep it at a simmer. (This is a safety thing a tepid broth won't properly cook the meats.) Another option would have been to reserve some of the spicy broth at a simmer on my stovetop and periodically replaced the hot pot's broth.

Use a bowl of rice as a base for your toppings and sauces.

As I watched my friends assemble their meals—rice (or noodles) in the bottom of the bowl, the just-cooked meats and veggies on top, sauces and garnishes to finish it all off—I saw that my hot pot plan had totally worked. Everybody having a good time and eating well. And they didn't even realize that they had cook their meals themselves.


How to Throw a Hot Pot Party—With a Slow Cooker!

Do you know the kind of dinner party I don’t like? The one where the host is cooking the entire time. A host that's in the kitchen is a host that's stressed out—and possibly stressing everybody else out—while simultaneously ignoring the people who have been invited into his or her home.

But what if everyone was cooking?

That was my thought when I first considered cooking traditional Chinese hot pot at home. The name says it all: diners gather around a giant pot of flavored broth and take turns dipping in raw ingredients. The broth cooks the ingredients, not unlike the oil in fondue. And just like fondue, hot pot is perfect for groups—and it's not an idea that's stuck in the ‘70s.

So here's what I did: I invited eleven friends to come over and gather around the hot pot. Then the hard part came. I had to figure out to pull hot pot at home off.

The communal activity of gathering around a pot of simmering broth is common all over Asia. But just exactly what kind of broth is in the pot depends on where exactly in Asia you are. In Japan, where the dining ritual is called shabu shabu, the broth is kombu-based, like dashi. Meanwhile, Mongolian hot pot features goji berries and jujubes. And on mainland China, Szechuanese hot pot is packed with lip-numbing peppercorns, chili peppers, and spices. That's the hot pot I wanted at my party.

At restaurants specializing in hot pot, the experience goes like this: you order a broth and raw ingredients, the staff fires up a portable hot plate at the table, and once the broth starts simmering, you start cooking the ingredients yourself.

To bring hot pot to my home, I had to make a few changes. I couldn't keep the broth simmering on the stovetop, obviously, and I don't own a hot plate. That led me to the slow cooker. If it can braise a pork shoulder, surely it can simmer a simple broth—right?

When I spoke to Sarah Leung, one of the four writers behind the acclaimed Chinese food blog Woks of Life, she approved my slow cooker idea. She also gave me all kinds of other pointers for shopping, preparing the broth, and keeping things moving as smoothly as possible. My most important takeaway? “A hot pot experience is ultimately what you make of it.”

Well, I wanted to make it awesome. But first, I had some shopping to do.

Just like in stir-frying, the most important and time-consuming part of hot pot is getting your mise en place—that is, all the vegetables and meats you'll be dipping into the hot pot—together and organized. You want a small arsenal of ingredients to dip and cook at your party, so the more variety, the better. I found an Asian market to make my shopping as one-stop as possible (less grocery trips = happier host). Hong Kong Supermarket in lower Manhattan had just about everything, from shrimp snacks to fish balls.

“You can look at it as ‘oh, this is so complicated,’” says Leung. But, she says, that's not the point. "The thing about hot pot that makes it great is variety.”

So variety is what I procured. I bought vegetables (daikon radish, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, two types of mushrooms), meats (thinly-sliced rib eye, chicken cutlets), fish balls (from the frozen section—they cook fast and youɽ never see one at a fondue party), pillowy fried tofu and firm tofu that can be cut into thick strips.

Next on my list: Build the broth that all this stuff will cook in.

Woks of Life gave me the method for the mouth-buzzing hot pot broth I was after. In a carbon steel wok (I got mine from San Francisco's Wok Shop I stir-fried sliced ginger, bay leaves, whole cinnamon, whole peeled garlic cloves, star anise, cloves, Sichuan peppercorns, and dried chilis. Then I added a store-bought hot pot base, a paste made from from a blend of chili peppers.

(Adding that hot pot paste was a serious blast to the nose—so much, it almost knocked our photographer off of her stool in a coughing fit. I quickly turned on the vent hood.)

After the aromatics were fried and caramelized came the annoying part: Pouring in 12 cups of chicken stock and bringing it to a boil. It's annoying because, given the wok’s capacity, I could only bring about half of the broth to a boil before transferring the whole thing to a big soup pot, where I added the remaining broth. Once that batch came to a boil, I transferred it all to the slow cooker. That's three cooking vessels, sure—but it's a much smaller mess than trying to put all that broth in the wok.

Put your hot pot in the center of the room.

Depending on how many people you invite, it may get a little crowded around the hot pot. Keep tempers from flaring by serving some snacks. I chose some easy roasted almonds (subbing in a few pinches of Chinese 5-spice powder for the lavender), a delectable smashed cucumber salad, and some Calbee shrimp chips. I served all this with some light beers (like the Chinese lager Tsingtao), and while everyone snacked and sipped, I got going on the condiments.

The most fun you'll have chopping cucumbers looks like this.

First, I made a pot of short-grain rice (you could also use glass noodles). Then I set out all those essential Asian sauces: soy sauce, Shacha (a sort of Chinese barbecue sauce), black vinegar, chili oil, and sesame paste (tahini from Whole Foods did the trick). I also set out garnishes such as crushed peanuts and freshly chopped cilantro and scallions.

If I’m being honest, I hadn’t put any thought into dessert until I spoke to my mom that morning. When she heard that my guests' mouths would be buzzing from all those peppercorns, she recommended I have some chocolate ice cream on hand. And, as is usually the case, mom was right. (Thanks, mom.)

With everything ready, I set the hot pot in a place where everybody could gather around it and we all dug in, dropping whatever we wanted into the slow cooker. We all had chopsticks, but there was an even more important utensil on hand: a spider strainer. When set gently into the hot pot, the spider creates a sort of net for the meats and veggies, so that they can be submerged and cook but not sink to the bottom.

When it’s wasn't being used, I replaced the lid on the slow cooker to keep it at a simmer. (This is a safety thing a tepid broth won't properly cook the meats.) Another option would have been to reserve some of the spicy broth at a simmer on my stovetop and periodically replaced the hot pot's broth.

Use a bowl of rice as a base for your toppings and sauces.

As I watched my friends assemble their meals—rice (or noodles) in the bottom of the bowl, the just-cooked meats and veggies on top, sauces and garnishes to finish it all off—I saw that my hot pot plan had totally worked. Everybody having a good time and eating well. And they didn't even realize that they had cook their meals themselves.


How to Throw a Hot Pot Party—With a Slow Cooker!

Do you know the kind of dinner party I don’t like? The one where the host is cooking the entire time. A host that's in the kitchen is a host that's stressed out—and possibly stressing everybody else out—while simultaneously ignoring the people who have been invited into his or her home.

But what if everyone was cooking?

That was my thought when I first considered cooking traditional Chinese hot pot at home. The name says it all: diners gather around a giant pot of flavored broth and take turns dipping in raw ingredients. The broth cooks the ingredients, not unlike the oil in fondue. And just like fondue, hot pot is perfect for groups—and it's not an idea that's stuck in the ‘70s.

So here's what I did: I invited eleven friends to come over and gather around the hot pot. Then the hard part came. I had to figure out to pull hot pot at home off.

The communal activity of gathering around a pot of simmering broth is common all over Asia. But just exactly what kind of broth is in the pot depends on where exactly in Asia you are. In Japan, where the dining ritual is called shabu shabu, the broth is kombu-based, like dashi. Meanwhile, Mongolian hot pot features goji berries and jujubes. And on mainland China, Szechuanese hot pot is packed with lip-numbing peppercorns, chili peppers, and spices. That's the hot pot I wanted at my party.

At restaurants specializing in hot pot, the experience goes like this: you order a broth and raw ingredients, the staff fires up a portable hot plate at the table, and once the broth starts simmering, you start cooking the ingredients yourself.

To bring hot pot to my home, I had to make a few changes. I couldn't keep the broth simmering on the stovetop, obviously, and I don't own a hot plate. That led me to the slow cooker. If it can braise a pork shoulder, surely it can simmer a simple broth—right?

When I spoke to Sarah Leung, one of the four writers behind the acclaimed Chinese food blog Woks of Life, she approved my slow cooker idea. She also gave me all kinds of other pointers for shopping, preparing the broth, and keeping things moving as smoothly as possible. My most important takeaway? “A hot pot experience is ultimately what you make of it.”

Well, I wanted to make it awesome. But first, I had some shopping to do.

Just like in stir-frying, the most important and time-consuming part of hot pot is getting your mise en place—that is, all the vegetables and meats you'll be dipping into the hot pot—together and organized. You want a small arsenal of ingredients to dip and cook at your party, so the more variety, the better. I found an Asian market to make my shopping as one-stop as possible (less grocery trips = happier host). Hong Kong Supermarket in lower Manhattan had just about everything, from shrimp snacks to fish balls.

“You can look at it as ‘oh, this is so complicated,’” says Leung. But, she says, that's not the point. "The thing about hot pot that makes it great is variety.”

So variety is what I procured. I bought vegetables (daikon radish, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, two types of mushrooms), meats (thinly-sliced rib eye, chicken cutlets), fish balls (from the frozen section—they cook fast and youɽ never see one at a fondue party), pillowy fried tofu and firm tofu that can be cut into thick strips.

Next on my list: Build the broth that all this stuff will cook in.

Woks of Life gave me the method for the mouth-buzzing hot pot broth I was after. In a carbon steel wok (I got mine from San Francisco's Wok Shop I stir-fried sliced ginger, bay leaves, whole cinnamon, whole peeled garlic cloves, star anise, cloves, Sichuan peppercorns, and dried chilis. Then I added a store-bought hot pot base, a paste made from from a blend of chili peppers.

(Adding that hot pot paste was a serious blast to the nose—so much, it almost knocked our photographer off of her stool in a coughing fit. I quickly turned on the vent hood.)

After the aromatics were fried and caramelized came the annoying part: Pouring in 12 cups of chicken stock and bringing it to a boil. It's annoying because, given the wok’s capacity, I could only bring about half of the broth to a boil before transferring the whole thing to a big soup pot, where I added the remaining broth. Once that batch came to a boil, I transferred it all to the slow cooker. That's three cooking vessels, sure—but it's a much smaller mess than trying to put all that broth in the wok.

Put your hot pot in the center of the room.

Depending on how many people you invite, it may get a little crowded around the hot pot. Keep tempers from flaring by serving some snacks. I chose some easy roasted almonds (subbing in a few pinches of Chinese 5-spice powder for the lavender), a delectable smashed cucumber salad, and some Calbee shrimp chips. I served all this with some light beers (like the Chinese lager Tsingtao), and while everyone snacked and sipped, I got going on the condiments.

The most fun you'll have chopping cucumbers looks like this.

First, I made a pot of short-grain rice (you could also use glass noodles). Then I set out all those essential Asian sauces: soy sauce, Shacha (a sort of Chinese barbecue sauce), black vinegar, chili oil, and sesame paste (tahini from Whole Foods did the trick). I also set out garnishes such as crushed peanuts and freshly chopped cilantro and scallions.

If I’m being honest, I hadn’t put any thought into dessert until I spoke to my mom that morning. When she heard that my guests' mouths would be buzzing from all those peppercorns, she recommended I have some chocolate ice cream on hand. And, as is usually the case, mom was right. (Thanks, mom.)

With everything ready, I set the hot pot in a place where everybody could gather around it and we all dug in, dropping whatever we wanted into the slow cooker. We all had chopsticks, but there was an even more important utensil on hand: a spider strainer. When set gently into the hot pot, the spider creates a sort of net for the meats and veggies, so that they can be submerged and cook but not sink to the bottom.

When it’s wasn't being used, I replaced the lid on the slow cooker to keep it at a simmer. (This is a safety thing a tepid broth won't properly cook the meats.) Another option would have been to reserve some of the spicy broth at a simmer on my stovetop and periodically replaced the hot pot's broth.

Use a bowl of rice as a base for your toppings and sauces.

As I watched my friends assemble their meals—rice (or noodles) in the bottom of the bowl, the just-cooked meats and veggies on top, sauces and garnishes to finish it all off—I saw that my hot pot plan had totally worked. Everybody having a good time and eating well. And they didn't even realize that they had cook their meals themselves.


How to Throw a Hot Pot Party—With a Slow Cooker!

Do you know the kind of dinner party I don’t like? The one where the host is cooking the entire time. A host that's in the kitchen is a host that's stressed out—and possibly stressing everybody else out—while simultaneously ignoring the people who have been invited into his or her home.

But what if everyone was cooking?

That was my thought when I first considered cooking traditional Chinese hot pot at home. The name says it all: diners gather around a giant pot of flavored broth and take turns dipping in raw ingredients. The broth cooks the ingredients, not unlike the oil in fondue. And just like fondue, hot pot is perfect for groups—and it's not an idea that's stuck in the ‘70s.

So here's what I did: I invited eleven friends to come over and gather around the hot pot. Then the hard part came. I had to figure out to pull hot pot at home off.

The communal activity of gathering around a pot of simmering broth is common all over Asia. But just exactly what kind of broth is in the pot depends on where exactly in Asia you are. In Japan, where the dining ritual is called shabu shabu, the broth is kombu-based, like dashi. Meanwhile, Mongolian hot pot features goji berries and jujubes. And on mainland China, Szechuanese hot pot is packed with lip-numbing peppercorns, chili peppers, and spices. That's the hot pot I wanted at my party.

At restaurants specializing in hot pot, the experience goes like this: you order a broth and raw ingredients, the staff fires up a portable hot plate at the table, and once the broth starts simmering, you start cooking the ingredients yourself.

To bring hot pot to my home, I had to make a few changes. I couldn't keep the broth simmering on the stovetop, obviously, and I don't own a hot plate. That led me to the slow cooker. If it can braise a pork shoulder, surely it can simmer a simple broth—right?

When I spoke to Sarah Leung, one of the four writers behind the acclaimed Chinese food blog Woks of Life, she approved my slow cooker idea. She also gave me all kinds of other pointers for shopping, preparing the broth, and keeping things moving as smoothly as possible. My most important takeaway? “A hot pot experience is ultimately what you make of it.”

Well, I wanted to make it awesome. But first, I had some shopping to do.

Just like in stir-frying, the most important and time-consuming part of hot pot is getting your mise en place—that is, all the vegetables and meats you'll be dipping into the hot pot—together and organized. You want a small arsenal of ingredients to dip and cook at your party, so the more variety, the better. I found an Asian market to make my shopping as one-stop as possible (less grocery trips = happier host). Hong Kong Supermarket in lower Manhattan had just about everything, from shrimp snacks to fish balls.

“You can look at it as ‘oh, this is so complicated,’” says Leung. But, she says, that's not the point. "The thing about hot pot that makes it great is variety.”

So variety is what I procured. I bought vegetables (daikon radish, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, two types of mushrooms), meats (thinly-sliced rib eye, chicken cutlets), fish balls (from the frozen section—they cook fast and youɽ never see one at a fondue party), pillowy fried tofu and firm tofu that can be cut into thick strips.

Next on my list: Build the broth that all this stuff will cook in.

Woks of Life gave me the method for the mouth-buzzing hot pot broth I was after. In a carbon steel wok (I got mine from San Francisco's Wok Shop I stir-fried sliced ginger, bay leaves, whole cinnamon, whole peeled garlic cloves, star anise, cloves, Sichuan peppercorns, and dried chilis. Then I added a store-bought hot pot base, a paste made from from a blend of chili peppers.

(Adding that hot pot paste was a serious blast to the nose—so much, it almost knocked our photographer off of her stool in a coughing fit. I quickly turned on the vent hood.)

After the aromatics were fried and caramelized came the annoying part: Pouring in 12 cups of chicken stock and bringing it to a boil. It's annoying because, given the wok’s capacity, I could only bring about half of the broth to a boil before transferring the whole thing to a big soup pot, where I added the remaining broth. Once that batch came to a boil, I transferred it all to the slow cooker. That's three cooking vessels, sure—but it's a much smaller mess than trying to put all that broth in the wok.

Put your hot pot in the center of the room.

Depending on how many people you invite, it may get a little crowded around the hot pot. Keep tempers from flaring by serving some snacks. I chose some easy roasted almonds (subbing in a few pinches of Chinese 5-spice powder for the lavender), a delectable smashed cucumber salad, and some Calbee shrimp chips. I served all this with some light beers (like the Chinese lager Tsingtao), and while everyone snacked and sipped, I got going on the condiments.

The most fun you'll have chopping cucumbers looks like this.

First, I made a pot of short-grain rice (you could also use glass noodles). Then I set out all those essential Asian sauces: soy sauce, Shacha (a sort of Chinese barbecue sauce), black vinegar, chili oil, and sesame paste (tahini from Whole Foods did the trick). I also set out garnishes such as crushed peanuts and freshly chopped cilantro and scallions.

If I’m being honest, I hadn’t put any thought into dessert until I spoke to my mom that morning. When she heard that my guests' mouths would be buzzing from all those peppercorns, she recommended I have some chocolate ice cream on hand. And, as is usually the case, mom was right. (Thanks, mom.)

With everything ready, I set the hot pot in a place where everybody could gather around it and we all dug in, dropping whatever we wanted into the slow cooker. We all had chopsticks, but there was an even more important utensil on hand: a spider strainer. When set gently into the hot pot, the spider creates a sort of net for the meats and veggies, so that they can be submerged and cook but not sink to the bottom.

When it’s wasn't being used, I replaced the lid on the slow cooker to keep it at a simmer. (This is a safety thing a tepid broth won't properly cook the meats.) Another option would have been to reserve some of the spicy broth at a simmer on my stovetop and periodically replaced the hot pot's broth.

Use a bowl of rice as a base for your toppings and sauces.

As I watched my friends assemble their meals—rice (or noodles) in the bottom of the bowl, the just-cooked meats and veggies on top, sauces and garnishes to finish it all off—I saw that my hot pot plan had totally worked. Everybody having a good time and eating well. And they didn't even realize that they had cook their meals themselves.


How to Throw a Hot Pot Party—With a Slow Cooker!

Do you know the kind of dinner party I don’t like? The one where the host is cooking the entire time. A host that's in the kitchen is a host that's stressed out—and possibly stressing everybody else out—while simultaneously ignoring the people who have been invited into his or her home.

But what if everyone was cooking?

That was my thought when I first considered cooking traditional Chinese hot pot at home. The name says it all: diners gather around a giant pot of flavored broth and take turns dipping in raw ingredients. The broth cooks the ingredients, not unlike the oil in fondue. And just like fondue, hot pot is perfect for groups—and it's not an idea that's stuck in the ‘70s.

So here's what I did: I invited eleven friends to come over and gather around the hot pot. Then the hard part came. I had to figure out to pull hot pot at home off.

The communal activity of gathering around a pot of simmering broth is common all over Asia. But just exactly what kind of broth is in the pot depends on where exactly in Asia you are. In Japan, where the dining ritual is called shabu shabu, the broth is kombu-based, like dashi. Meanwhile, Mongolian hot pot features goji berries and jujubes. And on mainland China, Szechuanese hot pot is packed with lip-numbing peppercorns, chili peppers, and spices. That's the hot pot I wanted at my party.

At restaurants specializing in hot pot, the experience goes like this: you order a broth and raw ingredients, the staff fires up a portable hot plate at the table, and once the broth starts simmering, you start cooking the ingredients yourself.

To bring hot pot to my home, I had to make a few changes. I couldn't keep the broth simmering on the stovetop, obviously, and I don't own a hot plate. That led me to the slow cooker. If it can braise a pork shoulder, surely it can simmer a simple broth—right?

When I spoke to Sarah Leung, one of the four writers behind the acclaimed Chinese food blog Woks of Life, she approved my slow cooker idea. She also gave me all kinds of other pointers for shopping, preparing the broth, and keeping things moving as smoothly as possible. My most important takeaway? “A hot pot experience is ultimately what you make of it.”

Well, I wanted to make it awesome. But first, I had some shopping to do.

Just like in stir-frying, the most important and time-consuming part of hot pot is getting your mise en place—that is, all the vegetables and meats you'll be dipping into the hot pot—together and organized. You want a small arsenal of ingredients to dip and cook at your party, so the more variety, the better. I found an Asian market to make my shopping as one-stop as possible (less grocery trips = happier host). Hong Kong Supermarket in lower Manhattan had just about everything, from shrimp snacks to fish balls.

“You can look at it as ‘oh, this is so complicated,’” says Leung. But, she says, that's not the point. "The thing about hot pot that makes it great is variety.”

So variety is what I procured. I bought vegetables (daikon radish, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, two types of mushrooms), meats (thinly-sliced rib eye, chicken cutlets), fish balls (from the frozen section—they cook fast and youɽ never see one at a fondue party), pillowy fried tofu and firm tofu that can be cut into thick strips.

Next on my list: Build the broth that all this stuff will cook in.

Woks of Life gave me the method for the mouth-buzzing hot pot broth I was after. In a carbon steel wok (I got mine from San Francisco's Wok Shop I stir-fried sliced ginger, bay leaves, whole cinnamon, whole peeled garlic cloves, star anise, cloves, Sichuan peppercorns, and dried chilis. Then I added a store-bought hot pot base, a paste made from from a blend of chili peppers.

(Adding that hot pot paste was a serious blast to the nose—so much, it almost knocked our photographer off of her stool in a coughing fit. I quickly turned on the vent hood.)

After the aromatics were fried and caramelized came the annoying part: Pouring in 12 cups of chicken stock and bringing it to a boil. It's annoying because, given the wok’s capacity, I could only bring about half of the broth to a boil before transferring the whole thing to a big soup pot, where I added the remaining broth. Once that batch came to a boil, I transferred it all to the slow cooker. That's three cooking vessels, sure—but it's a much smaller mess than trying to put all that broth in the wok.

Put your hot pot in the center of the room.

Depending on how many people you invite, it may get a little crowded around the hot pot. Keep tempers from flaring by serving some snacks. I chose some easy roasted almonds (subbing in a few pinches of Chinese 5-spice powder for the lavender), a delectable smashed cucumber salad, and some Calbee shrimp chips. I served all this with some light beers (like the Chinese lager Tsingtao), and while everyone snacked and sipped, I got going on the condiments.

The most fun you'll have chopping cucumbers looks like this.

First, I made a pot of short-grain rice (you could also use glass noodles). Then I set out all those essential Asian sauces: soy sauce, Shacha (a sort of Chinese barbecue sauce), black vinegar, chili oil, and sesame paste (tahini from Whole Foods did the trick). I also set out garnishes such as crushed peanuts and freshly chopped cilantro and scallions.

If I’m being honest, I hadn’t put any thought into dessert until I spoke to my mom that morning. When she heard that my guests' mouths would be buzzing from all those peppercorns, she recommended I have some chocolate ice cream on hand. And, as is usually the case, mom was right. (Thanks, mom.)

With everything ready, I set the hot pot in a place where everybody could gather around it and we all dug in, dropping whatever we wanted into the slow cooker. We all had chopsticks, but there was an even more important utensil on hand: a spider strainer. When set gently into the hot pot, the spider creates a sort of net for the meats and veggies, so that they can be submerged and cook but not sink to the bottom.

When it’s wasn't being used, I replaced the lid on the slow cooker to keep it at a simmer. (This is a safety thing a tepid broth won't properly cook the meats.) Another option would have been to reserve some of the spicy broth at a simmer on my stovetop and periodically replaced the hot pot's broth.

Use a bowl of rice as a base for your toppings and sauces.

As I watched my friends assemble their meals—rice (or noodles) in the bottom of the bowl, the just-cooked meats and veggies on top, sauces and garnishes to finish it all off—I saw that my hot pot plan had totally worked. Everybody having a good time and eating well. And they didn't even realize that they had cook their meals themselves.


How to Throw a Hot Pot Party—With a Slow Cooker!

Do you know the kind of dinner party I don’t like? The one where the host is cooking the entire time. A host that's in the kitchen is a host that's stressed out—and possibly stressing everybody else out—while simultaneously ignoring the people who have been invited into his or her home.

But what if everyone was cooking?

That was my thought when I first considered cooking traditional Chinese hot pot at home. The name says it all: diners gather around a giant pot of flavored broth and take turns dipping in raw ingredients. The broth cooks the ingredients, not unlike the oil in fondue. And just like fondue, hot pot is perfect for groups—and it's not an idea that's stuck in the ‘70s.

So here's what I did: I invited eleven friends to come over and gather around the hot pot. Then the hard part came. I had to figure out to pull hot pot at home off.

The communal activity of gathering around a pot of simmering broth is common all over Asia. But just exactly what kind of broth is in the pot depends on where exactly in Asia you are. In Japan, where the dining ritual is called shabu shabu, the broth is kombu-based, like dashi. Meanwhile, Mongolian hot pot features goji berries and jujubes. And on mainland China, Szechuanese hot pot is packed with lip-numbing peppercorns, chili peppers, and spices. That's the hot pot I wanted at my party.

At restaurants specializing in hot pot, the experience goes like this: you order a broth and raw ingredients, the staff fires up a portable hot plate at the table, and once the broth starts simmering, you start cooking the ingredients yourself.

To bring hot pot to my home, I had to make a few changes. I couldn't keep the broth simmering on the stovetop, obviously, and I don't own a hot plate. That led me to the slow cooker. If it can braise a pork shoulder, surely it can simmer a simple broth—right?

When I spoke to Sarah Leung, one of the four writers behind the acclaimed Chinese food blog Woks of Life, she approved my slow cooker idea. She also gave me all kinds of other pointers for shopping, preparing the broth, and keeping things moving as smoothly as possible. My most important takeaway? “A hot pot experience is ultimately what you make of it.”

Well, I wanted to make it awesome. But first, I had some shopping to do.

Just like in stir-frying, the most important and time-consuming part of hot pot is getting your mise en place—that is, all the vegetables and meats you'll be dipping into the hot pot—together and organized. You want a small arsenal of ingredients to dip and cook at your party, so the more variety, the better. I found an Asian market to make my shopping as one-stop as possible (less grocery trips = happier host). Hong Kong Supermarket in lower Manhattan had just about everything, from shrimp snacks to fish balls.

“You can look at it as ‘oh, this is so complicated,’” says Leung. But, she says, that's not the point. "The thing about hot pot that makes it great is variety.”

So variety is what I procured. I bought vegetables (daikon radish, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, two types of mushrooms), meats (thinly-sliced rib eye, chicken cutlets), fish balls (from the frozen section—they cook fast and youɽ never see one at a fondue party), pillowy fried tofu and firm tofu that can be cut into thick strips.

Next on my list: Build the broth that all this stuff will cook in.

Woks of Life gave me the method for the mouth-buzzing hot pot broth I was after. In a carbon steel wok (I got mine from San Francisco's Wok Shop I stir-fried sliced ginger, bay leaves, whole cinnamon, whole peeled garlic cloves, star anise, cloves, Sichuan peppercorns, and dried chilis. Then I added a store-bought hot pot base, a paste made from from a blend of chili peppers.

(Adding that hot pot paste was a serious blast to the nose—so much, it almost knocked our photographer off of her stool in a coughing fit. I quickly turned on the vent hood.)

After the aromatics were fried and caramelized came the annoying part: Pouring in 12 cups of chicken stock and bringing it to a boil. It's annoying because, given the wok’s capacity, I could only bring about half of the broth to a boil before transferring the whole thing to a big soup pot, where I added the remaining broth. Once that batch came to a boil, I transferred it all to the slow cooker. That's three cooking vessels, sure—but it's a much smaller mess than trying to put all that broth in the wok.

Put your hot pot in the center of the room.

Depending on how many people you invite, it may get a little crowded around the hot pot. Keep tempers from flaring by serving some snacks. I chose some easy roasted almonds (subbing in a few pinches of Chinese 5-spice powder for the lavender), a delectable smashed cucumber salad, and some Calbee shrimp chips. I served all this with some light beers (like the Chinese lager Tsingtao), and while everyone snacked and sipped, I got going on the condiments.

The most fun you'll have chopping cucumbers looks like this.

First, I made a pot of short-grain rice (you could also use glass noodles). Then I set out all those essential Asian sauces: soy sauce, Shacha (a sort of Chinese barbecue sauce), black vinegar, chili oil, and sesame paste (tahini from Whole Foods did the trick). I also set out garnishes such as crushed peanuts and freshly chopped cilantro and scallions.

If I’m being honest, I hadn’t put any thought into dessert until I spoke to my mom that morning. When she heard that my guests' mouths would be buzzing from all those peppercorns, she recommended I have some chocolate ice cream on hand. And, as is usually the case, mom was right. (Thanks, mom.)

With everything ready, I set the hot pot in a place where everybody could gather around it and we all dug in, dropping whatever we wanted into the slow cooker. We all had chopsticks, but there was an even more important utensil on hand: a spider strainer. When set gently into the hot pot, the spider creates a sort of net for the meats and veggies, so that they can be submerged and cook but not sink to the bottom.

When it’s wasn't being used, I replaced the lid on the slow cooker to keep it at a simmer. (This is a safety thing a tepid broth won't properly cook the meats.) Another option would have been to reserve some of the spicy broth at a simmer on my stovetop and periodically replaced the hot pot's broth.

Use a bowl of rice as a base for your toppings and sauces.

As I watched my friends assemble their meals—rice (or noodles) in the bottom of the bowl, the just-cooked meats and veggies on top, sauces and garnishes to finish it all off—I saw that my hot pot plan had totally worked. Everybody having a good time and eating well. And they didn't even realize that they had cook their meals themselves.


How to Throw a Hot Pot Party—With a Slow Cooker!

Do you know the kind of dinner party I don’t like? The one where the host is cooking the entire time. A host that's in the kitchen is a host that's stressed out—and possibly stressing everybody else out—while simultaneously ignoring the people who have been invited into his or her home.

But what if everyone was cooking?

That was my thought when I first considered cooking traditional Chinese hot pot at home. The name says it all: diners gather around a giant pot of flavored broth and take turns dipping in raw ingredients. The broth cooks the ingredients, not unlike the oil in fondue. And just like fondue, hot pot is perfect for groups—and it's not an idea that's stuck in the ‘70s.

So here's what I did: I invited eleven friends to come over and gather around the hot pot. Then the hard part came. I had to figure out to pull hot pot at home off.

The communal activity of gathering around a pot of simmering broth is common all over Asia. But just exactly what kind of broth is in the pot depends on where exactly in Asia you are. In Japan, where the dining ritual is called shabu shabu, the broth is kombu-based, like dashi. Meanwhile, Mongolian hot pot features goji berries and jujubes. And on mainland China, Szechuanese hot pot is packed with lip-numbing peppercorns, chili peppers, and spices. That's the hot pot I wanted at my party.

At restaurants specializing in hot pot, the experience goes like this: you order a broth and raw ingredients, the staff fires up a portable hot plate at the table, and once the broth starts simmering, you start cooking the ingredients yourself.

To bring hot pot to my home, I had to make a few changes. I couldn't keep the broth simmering on the stovetop, obviously, and I don't own a hot plate. That led me to the slow cooker. If it can braise a pork shoulder, surely it can simmer a simple broth—right?

When I spoke to Sarah Leung, one of the four writers behind the acclaimed Chinese food blog Woks of Life, she approved my slow cooker idea. She also gave me all kinds of other pointers for shopping, preparing the broth, and keeping things moving as smoothly as possible. My most important takeaway? “A hot pot experience is ultimately what you make of it.”

Well, I wanted to make it awesome. But first, I had some shopping to do.

Just like in stir-frying, the most important and time-consuming part of hot pot is getting your mise en place—that is, all the vegetables and meats you'll be dipping into the hot pot—together and organized. You want a small arsenal of ingredients to dip and cook at your party, so the more variety, the better. I found an Asian market to make my shopping as one-stop as possible (less grocery trips = happier host). Hong Kong Supermarket in lower Manhattan had just about everything, from shrimp snacks to fish balls.

“You can look at it as ‘oh, this is so complicated,’” says Leung. But, she says, that's not the point. "The thing about hot pot that makes it great is variety.”

So variety is what I procured. I bought vegetables (daikon radish, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, two types of mushrooms), meats (thinly-sliced rib eye, chicken cutlets), fish balls (from the frozen section—they cook fast and youɽ never see one at a fondue party), pillowy fried tofu and firm tofu that can be cut into thick strips.

Next on my list: Build the broth that all this stuff will cook in.

Woks of Life gave me the method for the mouth-buzzing hot pot broth I was after. In a carbon steel wok (I got mine from San Francisco's Wok Shop I stir-fried sliced ginger, bay leaves, whole cinnamon, whole peeled garlic cloves, star anise, cloves, Sichuan peppercorns, and dried chilis. Then I added a store-bought hot pot base, a paste made from from a blend of chili peppers.

(Adding that hot pot paste was a serious blast to the nose—so much, it almost knocked our photographer off of her stool in a coughing fit. I quickly turned on the vent hood.)

After the aromatics were fried and caramelized came the annoying part: Pouring in 12 cups of chicken stock and bringing it to a boil. It's annoying because, given the wok’s capacity, I could only bring about half of the broth to a boil before transferring the whole thing to a big soup pot, where I added the remaining broth. Once that batch came to a boil, I transferred it all to the slow cooker. That's three cooking vessels, sure—but it's a much smaller mess than trying to put all that broth in the wok.

Put your hot pot in the center of the room.

Depending on how many people you invite, it may get a little crowded around the hot pot. Keep tempers from flaring by serving some snacks. I chose some easy roasted almonds (subbing in a few pinches of Chinese 5-spice powder for the lavender), a delectable smashed cucumber salad, and some Calbee shrimp chips. I served all this with some light beers (like the Chinese lager Tsingtao), and while everyone snacked and sipped, I got going on the condiments.

The most fun you'll have chopping cucumbers looks like this.

First, I made a pot of short-grain rice (you could also use glass noodles). Then I set out all those essential Asian sauces: soy sauce, Shacha (a sort of Chinese barbecue sauce), black vinegar, chili oil, and sesame paste (tahini from Whole Foods did the trick). I also set out garnishes such as crushed peanuts and freshly chopped cilantro and scallions.

If I’m being honest, I hadn’t put any thought into dessert until I spoke to my mom that morning. When she heard that my guests' mouths would be buzzing from all those peppercorns, she recommended I have some chocolate ice cream on hand. And, as is usually the case, mom was right. (Thanks, mom.)

With everything ready, I set the hot pot in a place where everybody could gather around it and we all dug in, dropping whatever we wanted into the slow cooker. We all had chopsticks, but there was an even more important utensil on hand: a spider strainer. When set gently into the hot pot, the spider creates a sort of net for the meats and veggies, so that they can be submerged and cook but not sink to the bottom.

When it’s wasn't being used, I replaced the lid on the slow cooker to keep it at a simmer. (This is a safety thing a tepid broth won't properly cook the meats.) Another option would have been to reserve some of the spicy broth at a simmer on my stovetop and periodically replaced the hot pot's broth.

Use a bowl of rice as a base for your toppings and sauces.

As I watched my friends assemble their meals—rice (or noodles) in the bottom of the bowl, the just-cooked meats and veggies on top, sauces and garnishes to finish it all off—I saw that my hot pot plan had totally worked. Everybody having a good time and eating well. And they didn't even realize that they had cook their meals themselves.


Watch the video: Throw a Fondue Party With This CHEESE TOWER (January 2022).